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Physician Best Practices

4 Ways to Improve Efficiencies in Your Healthcare Practice

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4 Ways to Improve Efficiencies in Your Healthcare Practice

The ongoing collaboration of your medical staff is critical to the successful operations of your facility and the delivery of quality treatment to your patients. Ongoing education can help improve a medical practitioner’s ability to collaborate with other staff members, partners, and consultants both on location and remotely. Collaboration and communication within your medical practice can increase office efficiencies as well as improve the patient experience.

Collaboration is vital to the health care system because it helps spur collaborative teamwork. Well-coordinated collaboration across medical professions at your practice has the potential to allow for more comprehensive, population-based, cost-effective patient care and a new emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention, which will be essential in meeting ongoing healthcare challenges.

An appropriately synched team when it comes to communicating their needs will be more effective at executing their role daily, especially when it comes to the ongoing improvement of the care delivered to your network of patients.

During a multiple-day hospital stay, a patient may interact with 50 different employees, including physicians, nurses, technicians, and others. Therefore, focusing on a high level of collaboration among teams at your facility is critical for the success of your patients during their stay.

This level of collaboration helps build trust among different professionals and educates them regarding each individual’s strengths and weaknesses that make up the organization and their team. This understanding can help medical staff perform their duties more efficiently and, therefore, continue to succeed.

  1. Define Your Collaborative Approach to Health Care

A collaborative team is best defined as a group of medical practitioners from different professions who share patients and patient care goals and have responsibilities for complementary tasks on an ongoing basis. Establish what these teams will look like at your organization to begin setting your staff and coworkers up for success.

This team should be actively interdependent with a convenient means of communicating with other team members, patients, and families to ensure that all the various aspects of patients’ health care needs are integrated and addressed for the future. Technology like mobile devices makes communication more robust, strengthening the bonds between internal and external team members.

Each staff member should recognize that this collaborative team approach is unique compared to other techniques where healthcare professionals work independently without input from other practitioners.

  1. Delegate the Roles of Each Team Member, Respect Job Roles

The education of a health professional is separated mainly by profession, limiting the knowledge one staff member has about the skill set of another and potentially causing future problems.

Medical students have few opportunities to learn about other medical professions since their time is already minimal with a full schedule of classes, internships, and everything else it takes to master their field.

Learning to understand the roles and responsibilities of other professionals is necessary to function effectively on any team, especially in health care, because the team’s success lies in providing quality treatment to patients.

While medical training and legal scopes of practice like HIPA largely determine a person’s role at a health care facility, the skills of various primary care practitioners overlap to some extent in many cases. Most health care professionals have expertise in patient interaction, developing care plans, and educating patients on future treatment and best practices for their continued health and well-being.

Therefore, it’s essential to define the roles of each member of your team, past what their actual job title is, but instead on how they will assist others in dealing with the existing problems plaguing patients. The smaller the practice, the more likely it is that each role will be further blurred, and there may need stricter clarifications of who handles what to ensure ongoing collaboration.

Each team member should clearly understand the role of the more common positions in health care like nurses, physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, social workers, dentists, dietitians, and psychologists. This is important to establish as a baseline to help each team member effectively communicate with one another.

  1. Assign Specific Responsibilities and Tasks

In a perfect world, medical students would learn about the essential components of collaboration concerning coordination, communication, and shared responsibility. Unfortunately, in some cases, this is taught before entering the workforce, and in others, it must be reinforced in the field on an ongoing basis.

E-Consult Coordination:

The first step in coordination is determining which team members will be responsible for a particular patient problem. Because the team’s focus should be on the patient’s needs, patient care goals determine the makeup of your team and the responsibilities each team member has to address these patient problems. Using referral management software from ReferralMD can help manage this process electronically.

It is crucial to coordinate with the patient family members as partners on this team to ensure they are educated on the patient’s help and best address ongoing care. Sharing the supervision of an individual patient will help give them a 360-degree approach to their treatment and overall health care experience.

Communication:

Effective communication is needed to facilitate coordinated care at all times. An ideal communication system would include:

  • A well-designed digital filing system.
  • Regularly scheduled meetings to discuss patient care issues around the clock.
  • A mechanism for communicating with external systems.

As stated previously, technology today has helped dramatically impact and improve the ability to communicate today. With the continued expansion of the connected revolution, more devices are entering the healthcare industry to help create one ecosystem of devices that consistently communicate with one another to link facilities, patients, and staff members globally.

Shared Responsibility:

Sharing responsibility deals with issues related to leadership and decision-making for your collaborative unit. For example, physicians are historically the leaders and primary decision-makers in health care because of their many legal responsibilities for patient care decisions. Still, often it’s essential to understand the hierarchy of leadership and share the commitment to deliver world-class care.

Extensive education and training should be disseminated among staff members and not reserved solely for use by top physicians and administrators. The constantly evolving nature of patient care problems determines who will take on the leadership roles among your collaborative teams and how decision-making will be shared at different levels across the organization.

 

  1. Practice Collaborating, Handling Conflicts and Working Towards Improvement

Collaboration among team members who have different perspectives and areas of expertise often results in fresh insights and solutions to problems that rarely get achieved by one health professional working in a silo.

Each member of the staff should become aware that because of the professional diversity present on the team, differences of opinion and conflict are not only inevitable but are essential for the continued growth of your collaboration hence why it is so essential to practice and educate on how to deal with these types of issues.

At times conflict can encourage innovation and creative problem-solving if approached correctly. However, conflict needs to be constructive, build trust and understanding among team members over time, and turn issues into helpful solutions.

Failure to adequately address these conflicts can cause more issues to arise and affect the overall morale of your staff, turning one problem into many quite quickly.

To combat these issues, train team members about conflict resolution and continually improve the care and problem solving you’re delivering. Again, with your coordinated collaboration system in place, this should be easy to organize but more challenging to address and execute consistently.

It’s an ongoing process that’s never finished, which is often why learning how to resolve conflicts and improving the care you’re delivering daily can often be quite frustrating, even if the final results are gratifying.

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Physician Best Practices

3 Best Practices to Improve the Healthcare Patient Experience

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3 Best Practices to Improve the Healthcare Patient Experience

Providers have this obligation to deliver quality care, show more compassion, and convenient access to ensure a positive patient experience.

As healthcare resumes to embrace patient-centered care strategies, industry stakeholders have begun to improve the patient experience.

Per the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the patient experience “encompasses the range of interactions that patients have with the health care system, including their care from health plans, and from doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other health care facilities.”

Patient experience includes elements of healthcare quality, patient satisfaction, and convenient care. As such, healthcare professionals must understand what constitutes the patient experience and support a positive patient experience.

Ensuring that patients walk away from a care encounter satisfied and with their needs fulfilled is a vital aspect of healthcare. By focusing on care quality and safety as parts of the patient experience and using patient-centered care tactics to drive patient satisfaction and care access, healthcare professionals can work toward a better patient experience.

 

1. Frame patient safety as key to positive patient experiences

Fundamentally, providers must focus on delivering high-quality healthcare and fostering patient safety to create a positive patient experience. For example, if a patient falls ill from a hospital-acquired infection or does not receive adequate care that follows proven protocol, then the patient’s experience will suffer.

According to Deirdre Mylod, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation and Senior Vice President of Research and Analytics at Press Ganey, ensuring patient safety and quality care is the first step to creating a positive patient experience.

“The way that we approach improvement for patient experience measures is to reframe it. The exercise is not to make consumers happy. The exercise is to reduce patient suffering,” Mylod said.

Providers can reduce patient suffering by being more attentive to the latter’s needs. For example, checking in on-call buttons or determining if a patient needs help reaching an item or using the bathroom can help protect patients from falls or other harms, reducing preventable suffering.

Keeping patient-provider communication open can also help reduce patient suffering. In addition, being more comforting to the patient and ensuring she understands her health status can reduce worry and increase trust.

Research shows that incorporating patient safety and care quality as a part of the patient experience can improve outcomes. For example, a recent study in JAMA Surgery shows that negative patient experience reports are often tied to adverse surgical effects.

Of the 30,000 surgical patients, the research team investigated, 11 percent had reported a negative patient experience. These patient experiences were primarily tied to surgical complications, medical complications, and readmissions.

To reduce negative patient experiences, the researchers advised providers to focus on better patient-provider communications. Patients who trust and can speak freely to clinicians are more likely to express a care preference or safety concern.

2. Patient Consumerism to Retail Experience

Although necessary, the patient experience does not start and end with quality treatment and patient safety. Therefore, while providers should emphasize healing the patient and patient safety, other components of the patient experience providers should bear in mind.

For Peter Pronovost, MD, Ph.D A positive patient experience means that providers went beyond their traditional healing duties and grounded all of their work regarding the patient.

“For too long, we separated the quality of care and the experience of being cared for as two separate things,” he said. “In reality, I think most care providers said, ‘my job is to cure and those other things – well, they’re someone else’s job.’ So if a patient leaves our hospital and says we disrespected them, you better believe that’s a harm, and we have to do something about it.”

Some healthcare professionals choose to model their patient experience efforts after retail experiences. For example, when consumers shop in a clothing store, they look for quality goods and respect from sales associates and products that suit their style. According to Peter S. Fine, FACHE, President and CEO of Banner Healthcare, the same concept prevails in healthcare.

As patients bear more out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, they will become choosier about where they access treatment. As a result, Healthcare organizations that deliver a consumer-centric experience will be more likely to keep those patients happy — and return should they need care again — than hospitals that do not practice consumer-centric healthcare.

“As consumers have more choice and healthcare decisions impact their wallets more, they will increasingly compare their healthcare experience to the expectations they have developed in other aspects of their lives,” Fine said. “Healthcare organizations will need to live up to a new service expectation if they want to continue to win the business of their service savvy customers.”

 

3. Make healthcare access more convenient.

Providing a positive patient experience includes more than high care quality and driving patient satisfaction. Patients must also have convenient healthcare access.

Ensuring simple healthcare access means overcoming any barriers patients might face. In rural areas, these might be geographical barriers that providers use telehealth and other technologies to overcome. Other patients might contend with convoluted appointment scheduling, keeping patients from seeing their clinicians promptly.

Other patients face financial barriers to care. According to a January report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 70 percent of patients who face financial barriers to care to need better cost transparency. For patients, payment plans or more clear bill pay instructions can help them better manage their healthcare finances.

Creating a positive patient experience involves moving parts, including treatment delivery, patient satisfaction, and convenient healthcare access.

These many patient interests may prove challenging for healthcare professionals to balance. However, putting the patient at the center of care can help deliver a better patient experience. At each step of the care encounter, providers should focus on putting patients first, ensuring their healthcare and personal needs are met.